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Carl Barks, the chief writer and illustrator for Donald Duck comic books from the early 1940s to the early 1960s, writes about Donald and Donald's fans in the 1978 Walt Disney Productions book, Donald Duck.

Mr Bark's words are in quotations:

"..the main line devotees of these comic books are grown-ups -- men and women who read the stories first as children, then reread them after they had reached sophisticated adulthood."

(Much more about that in the final paragraph.)

Regarding the rise of the comic book phenomena in the 1940s, Barks writes:

"Right in there, riding the wave of public favor, was Donald Duck, who with his rich uncle Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews, swashbuckled all over the world in stories that became the biggest sellers of that glittering era."

"Donald was so unglamorous by comparison with the muscled heroes and handsome swains who battled evil in contemporary publications, that he didn't seem to belong... He was selfish, egotistical, prone to blundering into awesome difficulties.."

"..He lived ingloriously on a half-sunken houseboat in a pond. What a marvelously appropriate setting for a duck home!"

"As the newspaper comic strip departments grabbed up this new quacking character, the strip's insatiable need for a fresh gag every day necessitated a broader stage for Donald's encounters with human problems. The houseboat had become too limiting. So Donald was given a house, with its arrays of cantankerous gadgets, a balky refrigerator, a heatless furnace, a lawn bedeviled with weeds and gophers, a car, a girlfriend. He had become a
duck-of-the-world, and he let the world know that he thought himself abused."

"He was given three hyperactive little nephews to raise, and an impossible series of occupations that quickly bankrupted his meager patience."

"The comedy situation of Donald the reckless bungler getting into hopeless troubles from which he is extricated by his sharp-witted, suspicious-natured nephews was competently developed, and it has carried on into many tales of high and not-so-high adventures ever since."

"I was lucky enough to get the task of writing and drawing all but a few of Donald's novelettes [comic books] for over twenty years."

"From the fan mail received, it seems probable that most readers of Donald Duck comic books are adults. There are lawyers, doctors, writers, artists, college professors, sports figures, and representatives of nearly every other category of intelligent persons among the owners of complete collections of Donald Duck comic books. All stress a high regard for the way Donald's tales were written and drawn. They say that when they were children they noticed that the "good artist", as they called me, never wrote "down" to them, that my plots and dialogs were developed as though I thought each kid reader had a very high I.Q. Let me say that I never gave much thought to I.Q.s. In my own youth I had never known a kid over thumb-sucking age that didn't know quite a headful about mechanics, nature, geography, and all sorts of things. I wrote whatever dialogs were necessary for fleshing out a plot, with full confidence that kids would understand what was being said."

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